My daily reading notes look at a passage in the Old Testament, one in the New Testament and one in Psalms or Proverbs each day. Today I was reading about the ‘stages’ on the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness. (Numbers 33) That journey took a long time and involved following the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night. The movements of an entire people were dictated to by the presence of God, and it must have been quite unsettling in some ways. No one knew exactly how long they were going to stay in any one place; it might be weeks or months or it might just be a few days. I imagine these people unpacking everything and setting up the Tabernacle and longing for a period of stability… and then having to pack up again and set off with a little bit of a sigh!
Most of us really do crave routine and familiarity at some point; the nomadic lifestyle suits few people long-term. One thing that strikes me, however, as I read the stories of the wilderness wanderings is how utterly dependent the people were on God. Every day was lived with an awareness of His presence, and whilst I often crave a visible sign of HIs presence such as they had, I am aware that we too should be living with a similar awareness of His presence, for He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. (Heb 13:5)
So in these days where our freedom to move is curtailed and we are unsure how long these restrictions will last, I am reminded that what we really need is God’s presence, guiding us and leading us, and that is still available to us all.
‘Where You go, I’ll go Where You stay, I’ll stay When You move, I’ll move I will follow You.
All Your ways are good All Your ways are sure I will trust in You alone Higher than my side High above my life I will trust in You alone.’ (‘I Will Follow’, Chris Tomlin)